Teaching tango

Because I run a milonga once a month and get involved in other tango events I am often asked if I teach tango. The answer is no. I have been dancing tango socially for around 10 years and feel that I still have a long way to go because I don't devote a huge amount of time to practise and because I started fairly late in life. But that is not the reason I don't teach - I don't teach tango for a number of reasons but I should I be tempted I would not do so unless I had qualifications as a dance teacher.
There are many who visit Buenos Aires for a few weeks, or months, take lessons during their stay and return to Australia and open up a tango school. And there are a few who don't even do that before they feel they are good enough to teach tango. This is possible because there are no recognised credentials so it is a free for all. Winning competitions and awards, even practising every day, does not make a dance teacher. Of course there are those who are natural teachers and have a gift for imparting their knowledge to others. But there is more to teaching than being good at something. My children all learnt to dance (ballet etc.) from teachers who had spent years training as dance teachers and who understood anatomy, physiology and first aid - and I believe that those who teach dance to adults need the same accredited knowledge base. I have done some tango lessons with teachers who have had this classical training as teachers and would always choose this form of teaching. These teachers had lesson plans, they understood the body and how it worked and they were able to assess a dancer's ability and work with it.
Ausdance - the Australian Dance Council runs a course 'the Ausdance skill set for teaching dance' which includes understanding educational frameworks and settings, learning about teaching methods and styles and how to write lesson plans... as well as some knowledge about the human body and first aid and more.
I would like to see tango teachers getting some real qualifications such as this - in the meantime I will seek out the teachers who have skills as dance teachers, as well as skills as tango dancers.


Arlene said…
You are good to wait. We have so many people here that teach that really shouldn't. I think you are right about having to learn about the body, etc. I know about the body as a qualified massage therapist and reflexologist, but I don't know anything about teaching. And considering how I feel about teachers and teaching tango, well really, how much can you really teach before delving into all of the show stuff that annoys people on the dancefloor! :)
David G said…
I have just read the artical " Teaching tango" I was born in Italy but many years ago moved to Argentina and married an Argentinian who was brought up in a musical family. We regularly go to milongas, sitting at separate tables and afterwards joyen friends at a cafe to do what Argentinians do,talk. There are many styles of tango but we dance close embrace, so very often the conversation turns to how few overseas visitors understand the embrace.
Some time ago I was able to visit Sydney on business and everyone was very friendly towards me and I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of your milongas. On this visit I had the opportunity to dance with a number of your teachers and soon realised why so few overseas visitors, to my country, know how to embrace.All but one of the ladies embrace were frigid, there was no willingness to be with me, I was embracing a cold expressionless body,if it had been in Argentina I would have taken it as a clear signal that the lady did not wish to dance with me and I for one would never ask her to dance again. Very unpleasant. One of the ladies right arm was so rigid I thought she must have been fitted with a protheses and gently touched her fingers to see if they were real.
I dance very few fancy steps, the pleasure of the dance being in the connection with my partner and the sharing of these few minutes together through the embrace.
For those of you who wish to dance close embrace find a teacher who can dance it and teach it, it is not easy to learn but when you get it, you will understand why I am so passionate about it.
un beso y un abrazo portenos.

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